June 17, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing executives focused on its top priority, returning the grounded 737 MAX, safely to service, in its lead off briefing today at the Paris Air Show.
Greg Smith, EVP of The Boeing Co., appeared instead of CEO Dennis Muilenburg, taking the lead in recapping much of what has been known for weeks: Boeing’s regret for the 346 fatalities in the Lion Air and Ethiopian accidents, the MCAS software upgrade and working with airlines and regulators to determine the path back to recertifying the MCAS and the best curriculum for pilot training.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister, Defense unit CEO Leanne Caret and Global Services unit CEO Stan Deal followed Smith in a tightly scripted set of presentations and answers to questions.
The four immediately left the stage after the Q&A instead of loitering for the usual press gaggles.
The executives offered no estimate when regulators will lift the global grounding orders that idled nearly 400 737-8s and -9s. Flight testing by the US Federal Aviation Administration of the MCAS software upgrade hasn’t taken place yet, and the FAA will be the lead agency to recertify the MCAS software.
McAllister said the upgrade will offer three layers of protection to prevent another MCAS accident. He didn’t detail these layers, but previously Boeing indicated the MCAS will be linked to two, not one, Angle of Attack sensors; repetitive engagement of MCAS is eliminated; and AOA disagree will block MCAS from activating.
McAllister said Boeing already has held meetings in eight global cities, meeting with pilots and airlines as part of the preparation to return the MAX to service.
Deal, the Global Services CEO, acknowledged BGS will have a role in returning the grounded MAXes to service through pilot training, but offered no additional detail.
LNA earlier today identified the huge logistical challenge BGS and Boeing face in returning the MAX to service.
McAllister said each of the grounded airplanes will be treated as a new entry into service aircraft
Smith and McAllister offered no new news on the prospect of launching the New Midmarket Airplane. Citing the continued need to close the business case, McAllister said advanced manufacturing, digital design and wrapping Boeing Global Services into the business case is required.
Boeing first started talking about the “757 replacement” in 2012 and has been attempting to create and close a business case ever since.
McAllister said that “if we do” close the business case, the NMA will offer twin aisle comfort at single aisle airplane costs. The latter is a long-running refrain. The former is an ambiguity adopted by CEO Muilenburg at an investment bank conference several months ago.
Defense CEO Caret, asked about foreign object debris found in the KC-46A tanker after first deliveries to the US Air Force, ducked the question whether there is a deeply rooted problem in Boeing.
Rather, she said the presence of FOD is unacceptable any time and vowed to the customer—the Air Force—it wouldn’t happen again.